Not every arrest linked with alleged criminal behavior leads to a conviction, of course. Prosecutors and courts sometimes dismiss charges against accused wrongdoers. An individual might participate in a diversion program, with charges being dropped upon satisfactory completion. Defendants win at trial sometimes and are acquitted in a court of first instance or on appeal.
As fortunate as any of those outcomes might be for a targeted person, they do not necessarily spell an end to his or her criminal law challenges. “They are all scenarios that do not result in conviction,” notes an in-depth article on non-conviction records, “yet each produces a criminal record.”
And that can equate to material downsides in any given case. A record spawns a personal stigma that is a perpetual blemish marring opportunity. As the above-cited report notes, it can “result in a litany of adverse consequences” for an affected individual.
Potential outcomes can range widely from doors closed on job opportunities to failed college applications. A criminal history of any sort can negatively influence a potential landlord or a military recruiter.
That reality – and an understandably linked concern with justice – has prompted states to enact laws providing for the automatic expungement or sealing of non-conviction records in most cases. Reportedly, 17 states now have an automatic expungement process, with that number steadily growing.
Notably, Colorado is not on the list. The advocacy group Collateral Consequences Resource Center reports that Colorado and a few other states “expedite non-conviction relief through motions filed at the time of dismissal or acquittal without any waiting period.”
That provides a welcome opportunity in some instances, of course, but it is far from being the automatic process that non-convicted individuals seek. Issues can still arise that prevent sealing.
Effectively closing the book on a criminal matter not resulting in conviction is obviously a matter of highest importance for an affected individual. A defense team of experienced and empathetic attorneys can help secure that key goal.